House Committee Approves Transit Bill

WASHINGTON — The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure earlier this month approved a broad transit bill that aims to support public transportation agencies and increases incentives for commuters to choose transit options HR 6052, known as the “Saving Energy Through Public Transportation Act of 2008”, addresses the nation’s energy crisis by encouraging the growth of public transit, proponents say. “As the price of gas approaches $4 a gallon, more and more commuters are choosing to ride the train or the bus to work rather than drive alone in their cars,” said Rep. James L. Oberstar, D-Minn., chairman of the

Rail Network Could Face Major Congestion in Coming Decades

WASHINGTON — Congestion on the nation’s rail network is expected to increase over the next two decades and could eventually pose a major problem, members of Congress warned. Since deregulation of the freight railroad industry in 1980, Class 1 freight ton-miles have increased 93 percent, while miles of track have decreased 40 percent, U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., said. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that the demand for rail freight transportation will increase 88 percent by 2035, and their studies estimate that an investment of $148 billion in infrastructure expansion will be needed over the ext 28 years to

Rep.: High Gas Prices Help Rail Travel

WASHINGTON — Higher gas prices and congestion on the nation’s highways are helping to make railroads a more viable travel alternative, a congresswoman says. “Amtrak’s improved physical state and recent focus on customer service, along with increasing highway and airport congestion and rising gas prices, have made intercity passenger rail more popular and necessary than ever,” said Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials. Congress’ Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure approved a bill to reauthorize Amtrak and improve intercity passenger rail. HR 6003, the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008, authorizes

Bill to Reauthorize Amtrak, Improve Intercity Passenger Rail Moves Out of Committee

WASHINGTON — A bill to reauthorize Amtrak and improve intercity passenger rail was approved and reported out by the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. HR 6003, the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008, authorizes $14.4 billion for Amtrak capital and operating grants, state intercity passenger grants, and high-speed rail over the next five years. “Today’s markup is a historic milestone, because the legislation we approved today is a truly significant and long overdue investment in the nation’s passenger rail system,” said Rep. James L. Oberstar, D-Minn., chairman of the committee. “We can address many of the nation’s most

Schumer Named Porker of the Month for Rail Project

WASHINGTON — Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) named Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., its May Porker of the Month for attempting to use the tax code to earmark a $2 billion subsidy for a commuter rail between Manhattan and the JFK airport. Schumer wants to take advantage of the New York Liberty Zone (NYLZ) tax credits, which were intended to stimulate the redevelopment of downtown Manhattan after 9/11, for a rail project that has been under consideration since well before 2001. Sen. Schumer added the project to Senate Amendment 4585 to the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2007 (H.R. 2881). After questions

Amtrak Looking at $800M Budget for 2009

February 9, 2008 Railfanning.org News Wire 0

WASHINGTON — President Bush’s proposed $3.1 trillion budget for Fiscal Year 2009 provides $800 million for Amtrak, roughly 40 percent less than the passenger railroad’s $1.3 billion budget this year. But that’s not enough, says Rep. James L. Oberstar, D-Minn., chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure “In the last budget of his term in office, the President could have used the opportunity to make a bold statement about the state of the Nation and his hope, his vision, for its future,” Oberstar said in a news release. “Instead, the President stayed well inside his ideological comfort zone.

President’s Spending Plan Recommends $1.62 Billion for Transit Construction, Including New Projects in Nine Cities Across the U.S.

February 6, 2008 Railfanning.org News Wire 1

WASHINGTON — President Bush has recommended a $1.62 billion funding package for Fiscal Year 2009 that includes new projects in nine cities across the nation. This New Starts amount is part of a total public transportation budget proposal of $10.1 billion, a 6.8 percent increase over Fiscal Year 2008. “Well planned, cost-effective transit is crucial to relieving congestion, protecting the environment and reducing dependence on foreign oil,” said Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters. The budget proposes $200 million in funding for nine new projects in the “Small Starts” program, and four existing small starts projects. The spending plan also recommends

Some Say Rail Safety Bill Focuses More on Appeasing Labor Than on Most Effective Safety Improvements

October 27, 2007 Railfanning.org News Wire 0

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives has approved legislation to reauthorize the Federal Railroad Administration and fund federal rail safety programs for the next four years. The Federal Railroad Safety Improvement Act of 2007 renames the agency the “Federal Railroad Safety Administration” and seeks to address a number of issues pertaining to employee fatigue, grade crossing safety, employee training and positive train control. The bill passed the House by a 377-38 vote. “I am concerned that this rail safety bill concentrates too much on accommodating a big labor wish list rather than on the most effective means to improve

House Approves Federal Railroad Safety Improvement Act of 2007

October 17, 2007 Railfanning.org News Wire 0

WASHINGTON — The House voted 377-38 to approve the Federal Railroad Safety Improvement Act of 2007. HR 2095 will reauthorize the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and improve the safety of our Nation’s railroads. In addition to authorizing $1.1 billion over the next four years, the bill imposes new work rules that require longer rest periods and work shifts for rail workers that generally cannot exceed 12 hours; and it increases the number of rail safety inspection and enforcement personnel. “A comparison of the modes is revealing,” Rep. James L. Oberstar, D-Minn., said. “A commercial airline pilot … can work up

More Funding for Northstar Project

September 30, 2007 Railfanning.org News Wire 0

WASHINGTON — Another piece of the federal funding puzzle for the Northstar commuter line has fallen into place, officials said. Congressman Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., announced a $5.6 million grant has been awarded to the Northstar Corridor Rail Project. The funding will help secure an easement from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad to permit the commuter trains to travel on their tracks between Minneapolis and Big Lake. “We are one step closer to making commuter rail service a reality in Minnesota,” Oberstar said. “This will ease traffic congestion on I-94 and Highway 10. Commuter rail, bus transit, and even bike

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